Daily Archives: December 4, 2020

(WSJ) Christopher Caldwell–Macron Seeks an Enlightened Islam

Devout Catholics have often chafed under laïcité. But having either lived through or studied the Dreyfus era, they understood laïcité’s historic logic. Today’s young Muslims have no such folk memory. And history has moved on. In 1905, mass movements—socialism above all—were ready to provide antireligious muscle for the state. Today they are weaker, and they face a different religion, one that does not feature “turn the other cheek” among its precepts.

Nor does Islam have any hierarchy through which the state’s commands can efficiently resonate. When Combes told the church to close thousands of schools, bishops obliged. Laïcité requires such institutional interlocutors. Where France once tore down Catholic institutions, it must now build up Muslim ones. The CFCM is one example. As part of his antifundamentalist push, Mr. Macron has called for more Arabic instruction in schools.

The French leaders who invented laïcité knew the church. They were often lapsed Catholics themselves. Now when they sing the praises of an “Islam of the Enlightenment,” one wonders whether this is a realistic prospect or a figment of their ideological imaginations. Muslims may prefer the real Islam they have studied and lived to the licensed, accredited Islam of “Republican values” that Mr. Macron is proposing.

Every Western country has a version of this problem. All our treasured “values” were formulated for a society more uniform and more orderly than today’s. Why do we assume these values will survive diversity? Why does France assume that a system devised to subordinate its historic religion can serve just as well to mediate between its more recent secularism and a (rising) foreign religion? For a long time laïcité has rested less on its own logic than on the forbearance of its citizens. Under conditions of globalization, mass migration and the ethnic and religious recomposition of that citizenry, such forbearance can no longer be assumed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CPT) Gratitude as Intellectual Virtue: On John Webster’s “Theology in the Order of Love” (Part 1)

Although the regeneration of our fractured natures is God’s work from beginning to end, we must fill out this reality by working hard in pursuit of intellectual powers (abilities), and virtues. Webster acknowledges a long list of intellectual virtues, but focuses on just two: gratitude (to God and to others in the communion of saints), and generosity.

We’ll think about gratitude to God in the remainder of this post, and gratitude and generosity to others in a later post.

Webster reminds us that “Gratitude is fundamental to regenerate life: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God for you.’ (1 Thess. 5.18).” For theologians in our theological work, this includes gratitude to God as our teacher.

As our instructor, God doesn’t merely pass on information to us. Rather, he establishes a relationship and he makes us his friends. We don’t just know information. God enables us to know God (Jn 17:3). In God’s grace, “Ignorance and idolatry are overcome; powers of mind which creatures have neglected to exercise or squandered on worthless objects are awakened, reanimated and redirected.” And this is not done in isolation: in his saving work of regeneration, God is created an “intellectual society”, a “company of pupils or disciples (Isa 2.2-4; Mic. 4.1-3; Mk 6.34).”

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Posted in Anthropology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Cyberattacks Discovered on Vaccine Distribution Operations

A series of cyberattacks is underway aimed at the companies and government organizations that will be distributing coronavirus vaccines around the world, IBM’s cybersecurity division has found, though it is unclear whether the goal is to steal the technology for keeping the vaccines refrigerated in transit or to sabotage the movements.

The findings were alarming enough that the Department of Homeland Security issued its own warning on Thursday about the threat.

Both the IBM researchers and the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the attacks appear intended to steal the network log-in credentials of corporate executives and officials at global organizations involved in the refrigeration process necessary to protect vaccine doses.

Josh Corman, a coronavirus strategist at the cybersecurity agency, said in a statement that the IBM report was a reminder of the need for “cybersecurity diligence at each step in the vaccine supply chain.” He urged organizations “involved in vaccine storage and transport to harden attack surfaces, particularly in cold storage operation.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(BBC) France launches checks on dozens of mosques

The French authorities have launched inspections of dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of links to Islamist extremism.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced the crackdown, saying some could be closed if found to be encouraging “separatism”.

It comes a week before the unveiling of a new law to combat such extremism.

It is a response to attacks in October, blamed on Islamists, including the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.

In a note to regional security chiefs, reported by French media, Mr Darmanin said there would be special checks and surveillance for 76 mosques and prayer halls, 16 of them in the Paris region.

He ordered “immediate action” concerning 18 of them, with the first checks set to be done on Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of Damascus

Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by thy servant John of Damascus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Lancelot Andrewes

Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology: Scripture